Steel­ers get back on track with win

Manukau Courier - - WIN A TRIP TO ITALY - ALAN APTED

‘‘This is ... a great achieve­ment for the team and the union.’’

The Steel­ers, the Heat and the un­der­19s gave Coun­ties Manukau rugby fans rea­sons for some fist pump­ing.

The Steel­ers snapped a four game los­ing streak in the Mitre 10 Cup with a 33-14 win over Hawke’s Bay at ECOLight Sta­dium on Sun­day, a win that eased the dis­tress of their 78-5 Ran­furly Shield thrash­ing at the hands of Can­ter­bury four days ear­lier.

De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, the Heat scorched the Auck­land Storm 36-12 at Bell Park, Paku­ranga to re­main the only un­beaten team af­ter three rounds of the Farah Palmer Cup.

And the Coun­ties Manukau un­der-19’s, lead cap­tain Jamie Orr, brought home the ba­con by re­tain­ing the New Zealand un­der-19 rugby tour­na­ment’s Michael Jones Tro­phy for the third suc­ces­sive year.

They re­tained their cham­pi­onship ti­tle beat­ing Hawke’s Bay 20-3 in the semi fi­nal be­fore hold­ing out a fast fin­ish­ing South­land 34-31 in a tense fi­nal at Owen De­lany Park in Taupo last Sun­day.

It’s the third time in a row that the baby Steel­ers have won the Michael Jones Tro­phy, a feat cam­paign man­ager Nick Leger says is a won­der­ful achieve­ment.

‘‘This is the third win in a row for Coun­ties Manukau, a great achieve­ment for the team and the union. They’re now un­de­feated in three years.

‘‘Beat­ing Otago on day one was a high­light. They were seeded one in the cham­pi­onship sec­tion and were favourites to win the tro­phy. We were ranked fourth.’’

Leger says Pa­pakura’s Aso­mua twins, Fuifatu and Suetena were out­stand­ing in the fi­nals.

‘‘Fuifatu, a No.8, scored two tries while Suetena was a con­stant pres­ence in the scrums, at the break­downs and in his sup­port play. Vice cap­tain Joshua Baver­stock also had a great tour­na­ment. His gen­eral play was out­stand­ing along with his kick­ing and tack­ling.’’

The Steel­ers re­alise they can’t af­ford an­other bad at the of­fice in any of their four re­main­ing Mitre 10 Cup matches start­ing with the Bay of Plenty in Tau­ranga on Sun­day.

A 33-14 home win over Hawke’s Bay last Sun­day breathed new con­fi­dence into their cam­paign af­ter four straight losses. They re­main last on the pre­mier­ship table where rel­e­ga­tion is a con­cern.

The Heat, who face Can­ter­bury at Massey Park, Pa­pakura on Satur­day at mid­day, are at the other end of the spec­trum.

Their 36-12 whip­ping of Auck­land leaves them un­beaten af­ter three matches. They lead the standings by six points.

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